Carolina: Cruising Past 70

Friday, October 22, 2021


Of all the possible milestones in one’s life, the first wedding of a grandchild has got to be one of the most significant because it means that a great-grandchild may only be nine months away! And when she assigns you to be the “officiant” at the ceremony, it becomes even more worthy of the adjective “best.” But as usual, travelers that we are, we could not help but explore the sights nearby, and even take a day trip to explore LA beyond Hollywood. Here is a rundown.


Hangar 21

The ceremony and reception were held at the unique venue called Hangar 21 in Fullerton, California. It was perfect for the times because it was open and spacious. If there is what can be called a dramatic entrance, this venue made it happen. After the ceremony at another section, the couple was transported via helicopter to the reception amid the wildest of cheers and applause by family and friends gathered.  

Downtown Disney

My visiting Canadian grandkids did not care for the endless lines and the scary rides in Disneyland but my husband and I insisted on bringing the six and eight-year-olds to Downtown Disney at least. They did not even bother to buy any souvenir items, saving their money for gaming items when they get back home. But their faces broke into smiles when we found some excellent flatbread smothered with mozzarella!

Anaheim Garden Walk

When my Canadian family transferred to the house of the newlyweds, we had the hotel suite all to ourselves. Since our schedules were freed up, e explored the much-talked-about Anaheim Garden Walk just behind our resort, The Peacock Suites. It is quite a unique pedestrian mall on hilly slopes. Actually, its signature restaurant, McCormick and Schmick’s Grille, had served as the special venue for the Rehearsal Dinner, featuring great big juicy steaks and artisan deserts!

Aside from great restaurants, the walk also features shops with costumes for parties (prevalent in Anaheim), unique experiences in themselves like the FlightDeck, and unique food and drinks like whisky-flavored bubble tea! The mall also supports artists with an Art on the Walk that includes murals, art installations, and art-in-windows. But the main draw on this walk was the entertainment bar to which the line of party-goers waiting to get in was looooong. Click this for
a virtual tour.

Huntington Beach

Dubbed Surf City, USA,
Huntington Beach was the second place we spent one of our three afternoons. Located in Southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego, ten miles of wide-open sandy beaches are heaven for families, couples, dogs, and surfers. It had just opened the day before, after a week of closure because of a large oil spill that occurred on Oct. 2, 2021.  Its icon is the 1,850-foot pier which takes you out there to the sounds of crashing waves and the feel of the strong, chilly ocean breeze. My husband and I got a great afternoon walk!


We devoted our last day to explore four of the many landmarks of LA. Collectively, they showed me another side of the city, the side beyond Hollywood.  

La Brea Tar Pits

I never imagined that a sprawling urban location like LA would be host to an actively excavated Ice Age fossil site!
La Brea Tar Pits has fascinated scientists since the 1900s. Ice Age animals, plants, and insects were trapped in these sticky asphalt pits, preserving them for more than 50,000 years now. Most of the fossils are housed in the museum but those that are still being processed are in what is called Projects 2&3 or in one of a hundred other pits still being processed. The fossils range from huge extinct mammoths to tiny remnants of plants and animals.

Leftover from asphalt mining operations in the late 1800s, the Lake Pit, formed by rain and groundwater that have collected above the bubbling asphalt over a deep underground oil field, sits right in front of the museum. The life-size mammoths here are just concrete recreations of the animals becoming trapped in the tar. They are a dramatic representation, especially against the backdrop of an amphitheater appropriately inspired by mammoth tusks in its design.

LA County Museum of Art

Right next to the Tar Pits is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (
LACMA). Actually, we regretted having exited the Tar Pits’ parking lot for which we paid $15, only to find LACMA next door and having to pay $18 for another slot. We suggest that you use either parking lot and simply walk to the other.

The LACMA has evolved and expanded through the past two decades. In 2008 its iconic public art Urban Light was revealed. It is a sculpture composed of 202 vintage street light lampposts all from the 1920s and 1930s. Salvaged from LA neighborhoods, they have been assembled in an array of varying heights from 20 to 30 feet, adjacent to the Wilshire Boulevard sidewalk. Fitted with dusk-to-dawn solar-powered lighting, it has become a fitting symbol of the diverse city and one of the most popular public artwork in Southern California.  

The Getty Center 

We were going to go here to fill the time before we met up with my daughter and the kids, who had spent the morning at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater. Fortunately or unfortunately, we found 
The Getty Center so very worthy of a longer visit. It is full of art, with modern building designs and spectacular gardens on a strategic hill with fantastic views of the city, and many places for rest and drinks. Even the items in the gift shop were well-curated. As a result, we stayed much longer than expected, and only had a quarter of an hour with them at the next stop.  

The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory
looked so mystical atop a hill as we approached it on the scenic drive around winding roads.  Alas, we only had enough time for a souvenir photo with the grandkids at the overlook near the entrance, with a great view of Hollywood Hills and the emblematic Hollywood sign. Later we found out that a hike to the famous sign would have taken us only about one-and-a-half hours from there. Next time, definitely!

After they left for their Covid-tests—required for their flight back to Canada—we took our time to explore the grounds of the Observatory. Griffith J. Griffith, the landmark’s benefactor, decided that a public observatory in Los Angeles was needed so that many more people could have the same transformational moment he had 1n 1904 while he was observing the universe through Mount Wilson Observatory’s 60-inch telescope.

The Observatory was opened in 1935 and over the next 76 years, his vision was realized for tens of millions of people. To ensure the Observatory would continue its mission for even more generations to come, the building closed to the public for a major renovation and expansion on January 6, 2002, and reopened on November 3, 2006. Last year it celebrated its 85th anniversary as a world-class landmark.

We did not finish the list of LA sights we wanted to visit. We will definitely be back, not just to visit my granddaughter and her husband but also to continue learning more about why LA is one of the best destinations in the world.